Divya Alter is the Co-Founder & Director of Ayurvedic Health & Culinary Arts at Bhagavat Life. Divya has cooked in yoga ashrams and temples in India, Europe and the U.S. for 25 years. She has been teaching Ayurvedic vegetarian cooking in New York City since 2009 and is a regular faculty at the New York Open Center. She and her husband recently opened New York’s authentic Ayurvedic café in Manhattan called Divya’s Kitchen. She also is the author of the new book What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen - 100 Seasonal Recipes.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the oldest holistic healing science in the world. It was originated in what is today known as India about 5000 years ago. One of the goals of Ayurveda is to help human beings maintain balance at emotional, physical, mental and spiritual level. It helps integrate ourselves at all these levels. The concept to maintain balance varies from person to person. Each one of us has our own reference for balance depending on our body type and depends on the lifestyle we have. Each one of us has our balancing factors and we have our stressing factors. What is balancing for one person might not be the same for someone else.
How would you know where to start if you want to become more balanced?
The first step is to identify your needs, identify what is missing in your life. Divya particularly focuses on Ayurvedic aspects of food and she helps people identify what food is good for them and can help them create more balance physically and mentally. The best assessment would be to have a trained Ayurvedic practitioner read your pulse. A practitioner will be able to identify what energies are out of balance, what you need to fix them. In her book ‘What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen’ Divya takes a very simple journey of how food can help you maintain balance on four different levels. She talks about four different types of digestion according to Ayurveda. It is easier for us to identify what digestion we have rather than what kind of body type we have. Divya helps people identify their digestion so they can eat according to their digestion.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to eat according to the seasons?
Divya says that as we need to change our clothes according to the season, it is very important we change our diet with the season. Like in the spring season, when the temperatures warm up, there is more humidity in the air and the atmosphere is heavier than usual, it is better if we eat food that is lighter in fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Leafy greens are very good for the spring season. They are detoxifying as well as good for the digestive tract. Divya says we should also eat food more spicy food. We should cook with more spices because it will help us to release any sluggishness we accumulate during winters. We should also have lighter grains like millet and barley. They are very nourishing and lighter for our system.
Where does meat fit into Ayurveda?
Ayurveda never supported meat industry and the concept of all the slaughterhouses. In Ayurveda, meat is prescribed as medicine, not as mass consumption. Ayurveda also says that if someone is trying to become more compassionate and go deep in his or her spiritual journey, then a vegetarian diet is more recommended because it is the least cruel diet.
How did you get started on the entrepreneurial journey?
Divya’s cooking journey began when she was 18 years old. She was looking for a yoga studio in Bulgaria. Back then, everything spiritual in Bulgaria was forbidden so Divya had a lot of trouble finding a yoga studio. She eventually found an underground yoga studio in Bulgaria and became an intern in a kitchen of that studio. In the process, she fell in love with cooking and she would cook for 30 to 60 people. Her love for yoga and eagerness to learn it took her to India where she lived and studied yoga for five years. She continued to learn cooking in India as well. During her time in India, she became very sick and came across an Ayurvedic doctor who helped Divya eat the right food for her body. That is when she first experienced food as a medicine for her body. When she came to New York about ten years ago, she started teaching cooking classes along with her husband. She gradually grew in her business and now she has her own cooking school. Her focus in these classes is to teach Ayurvedic principles for cooking food. She opened her Ayurvedic restaurant six months ago and she is the executive chef in the restaurant.
What is the simplest easy meal that someone can make and is clean to eat?
First, select the best quality ingredients for your food. Do not use canned or frozen food. You can make soup as it contains a high amount of proteins. You can make any vegetable dish as well. There is a dish in Ayurveda and it is called Kitchari. It is very quick to make, nutritious and easy to digest. You can make Kitchari in 30-40 minutes.
What does living your purpose mean to you?
For Divya, living her purpose means doing what makes her happy and fulfilled. She says she needs to have a continuous feeling of being in service to others if she is living her life to its purpose.
What is the best advice you have been given?
The best advice she has been given is to be herself and to do what she loves doing. She believes she can only live her life on purpose if she stays natural and authentic.
How can we connect with you?
Her website’s URL is
You can also find her on Facebook from through the following URL
Her Instagram handle is
You can find out more about her book from the following link